"Deeply politicizing workers is of paramount importance"
"Socialism cannot confine itself to fighting for social demands, but it has to transcend" "We've always been rentier; work is seen as a sort of merchandise; that's not fair"
The new "revolutionary" stage aims at "rendering transition to socialism irreversible" and in this sense, the union sector plays a fundamental role.
Wills Rangel, the president of the Bolivarian Workers' Union, states that the ideal socialist workers should bear the success of their business in mind, for them to have moral to fight for their demands.
-What will be the basis of the new labor profile?
- Deeply politicizing workers and strongly engaging in what President (Hugo Chávez) has described as the five historical proposals of the "Revolution" is of paramount importance.
-What do you mean by politicizing workers?
-Knowing all and every reason why socialism is the way and having a basis to talk with those who do not believe it.
-After 14 years, socialism has not still been understood?
-We have made progresses, but have to continue to move forward.
-How will you attain this?
-Workers have to be ideologically trained, because socialism cannot confine itself to fighting for demands; however, it is necessary to transcend beyond production of a company, goods and services of the State; we have to understand that we are a part of a society and that the "Revolution" success depends on our effective actions.
-¿Are you already working on that training?
-Yes. We're about to open a program that includes university courses for workers at the Universidad Bolivariana.
-What would that training plan consist of?
-It consists of several phases. Training in legal matters; the right to work, labor social organization; and the national project and sovereignty. We insist in developing proposals within the framework of the project that Commander Chávez presented the day when he registered his candidacy with the electoral board.
-How would those courses be offered?
-We're going to start with the oil sector and then the courses will be extended to the remaining sectors. We're 13 million workers in the country and have to be organized.
-Why is the "Revolution" the best way?
-Returning to the old system of labor severance payment, the payment of labor debts that have been long overdue, since 1985, with PetroOrinoco bonds are positive features of the "Revolution," in addition to the reform of article 6 of the Social Security Law, which allows independent workers to pay contributions to the Social Security; progressive wage increases; social salaries and food allowances.
-But there are also failures, such as the suspension of negotiations of the collective bargaining contract for the public administration.
-We're already working to solve the situation of public servants. Other sectors do not have collective contracts, have very low salaries and production has to be reviewed; we're working on that. We admit that there still is a lot of hard work to do, but that's what we're here for.
-2013-2019 Government Plan proposes leaving wage-earning labor behind; how can that be understood?
-That's precisely the aim of the training plans: understanding what socialism is about.
We're not telling that workers aren't going to earn a salary, but that they're going to have better working conditions.
We have always been rentier; labor is seen as a sort of merchandise; that's not fair.
-Are you confident that that behavior can be changed?
- Yes. That's possible. The people ratified it. We're a majority and this is the way to convince those who didn't vote for this option.
-Do you believe that those 8 million people are clear about this being the right way?
-Of course; you use the vote to ratify what you want.
-What are the plans of the workers' union?
-One of the top priorities is organization and unity.
-Have you not attained that yet?
-It's been difficult. Many sectors do not think about the collective.
-Some warn of renewed attacks against unions.
-Those who say so do not represent anybody. For instance, leaders of the Workers' Confederation of Venezuela (CTV) do not represent anybody.
They have always been political pawns of the old parties, used to manipulate workers.
-I'm referring to Únete, a union that supports the government.
-Do you support something just by saying so, but in the practice you don't? You have to be very careful with the behavior of some people who say they support the government and before exhausting all negotiation ways with those they claim to support, they go out to protest, call a strike, and paralyze an industry.
-But the right to strike is legal, isn't it?
-It's consecrated and legitimized. We cannot kneel down before the government; our true nature is being polemic; but the issue of supporting the government also means exhausting all negotiation ways; not because we stage a strike, we're going to play a leading role.
I believe in dialogue and this government is open to dialogue.
-Are the doors of the Workers' Union open for federations that are not members of the government's party?
-It doesn't matter. Being a member of a political party isn't determining to join the Union. What is determining is that they represent workers legitimately.
We don't want to create a workers' union as an instrument of political parties.
-We have talked about workers, but what do you have to say to employers?
-We tell them that labor is a family's social asset; that they have to watch out and respect labor.
I read that Fedecámaras (employers association) has a project. Our's is one model; they have another. What we're not going to accept is that minorities impose a model on the majority. That was before, not today. Today we have to debate.
Translated by Álix Hernández
Luis Jiménez Alfaro seems to have hidden under the rocks. The last time he was seen was on April 2006 walking calmly around Simón Bolívar International Airport of Maiquetía, located nearby Caracas. At that time, more than five tons of cocaine arrived in Mexico in an airplane which took off from Venezuela, and his name featured as a missing piece of the puzzle of one of the most massive drug shipments that has been witnessed in the Western Hemisphere.